Nationally recognised, University of Tasmania student Marina Rose ‘Mars’ Geldard is educating the world about machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Geldard has volunteered at industry events, tutored computer science at the University of Tasmania and built Game of Thrones in Minecraft.

She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and the National Executive Council of the AUC.

And she has just written a book Practical Artificial Intelligence with Swift, which is taking her to conferences in Europe and North America, supported by her publisher O’Reilly Media.

Geldard has gone above and beyond, achieving all of this as a student of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at the University of Tasmania.

Her latest achievement – other than finishing with First Class Honours and qualifying for a University Medal – is becoming the 2019 ICT Student of the Year, included in the mix of prestigious Australian Computer Society (ACS) Digital Disruptors Awards.

Geldard said the recognition has meant a boost to her confidence and career in ICT.

“It’s a great reminder that I'm not working in isolation despite feeling a bit out of place – I am a woman, have Asperger's and come from a non-academic background.

“I'd been trying to get up the confidence to apply for a PhD next year at the University of Tasmania, and now I have been recognised nationally for what I do, I definitely will.”

Geldard is currently doing a data science internship with Canva and says she has found her place in data science and machine learning.

“Entering the world of technology relatively late, I’ve found my place in the world: an industry where I can apply my lifelong love of mathematics and optimisation.

“With the advent of powerful computers, we can now calculate correlating or determinant factors in data that humans alone probably never could.”

For her Honours research, Geldard created open source software to assist with analysing the engagement of trending content on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Geldard hopes that in her rocketing career, the technology industry will help to solve social and environmental issues.

“I hope the technology industry will be used to hold people accountable for inequality, raise the quality of lives and help stop climate change and the inevitable economic disparity it leads to.

“I think designers will strive to make devices ubiquitous and responsive to the point that technology is invisible – you forget that what you're interacting with is a computer.”

Claire Baker is the Media & Communications Officer at the University of Tasmania.